All posts by Peter DeHaan

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan shares his passion for life and faith through words. Peter DeHaan’s website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages. Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly.

Three Possible Problems with Self-Published Books

Self-published Book Problems

Self-published books carry a stigma of poor quality: weak writing, shoddy editing, second-rate production, and a product that often screams “amateur.” Unfortunately, this perception stems from the growing evidence provided by many self-published works. Though not all self-published books are substandard, too many are.Self-Published Book Problems: 3 common mistakes to fix

Here are thee examples self-published book problems from some of my recent reads:

1. A Lack of Editing

This printed book had a nice cover and looked professional. It unveiled a pleasing storyline and contained no errors (at least that I noticed). What it needed, however, was a thorough copy-edit, as there were continuity issues, implausible events, and an impossible timeline.

Also, the author tied up every loose end to produce a fairytale conclusion for most every character. Despite much promise, the journey was unsatisfying.

2. The Rough Draft

This novella-length e-book had a decent title and acceptable cover. The story line was intriguing—and those were the good points. It had significant issues with flow and continuity, but worse yet, I felt I was reading a first draft.

To its credit, the book had a killer surprise ending I never saw coming and delighted me immensely. But, unless someone options this for a movie (which could happen), I see no value to this book—either commercial or literary.

3. Missing Substance

A third book had none of these shortcomings. Well written, it benefited from careful editing and proofreading. The author had an enjoyable voice and wonderful concept.

What this book needed, however, was more substance and the removal of some idealistic recommendations that surely no one would follow. Though the majority of the book had value, the impractical parts threatened to overshadow the rest. Your self-published book must avoid these three problems. Click To Tweet

This isn’t to imply all self-published books are bad. There are good self-published books out there, which don’t suffer from these self-published book problems. They contain no consequential flaws and are enjoyable or valuable to read.

Unfortunately, in my experience, good self-published books are not as common as they could and should be.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

What do the days ahead hold for those of us who publish books?  What is the future of book publishing?

Given the rapid changes the industry is undergoing, we anticipate a different tomorrow, but just how much different will it be? Will today’s roles even exist in a decade or two?Consider the Future of Book Publishing

Predicting the future or even anticipating what might lie ahead in the years to come is a difficult task. Although the details are unclear, three general outcomes remain assured:

Consumers of Content

Barring a cataclysmic apocalypse with survivors reduced to a subsistence life, there will always be people who will desire and consume content. Generically called art, entertainment, or education, this content could take many forms, including print, audio, video, multimedia, or interactive, but regardless of the formats, consumers will want content.

Producers of Content

As long as an audience exists, content producers will be in demand. Writers will supply content: writing, creating, inventing, and envisioning. In a way, writers will become artists, producing art for their patrons. Their art may take many forms, beyond merely the writing out of their words.

Facilitators of Content

Idealism suggests that future content producers will directly connect with content consumers. While this may happen in limited situations, middlemen will facilitate the transaction in many cases and facilitate the creation in most instances. The transaction facilitators will mass-produce and distribute the content.

Therefore content facilitators will provide today’s agents, editors, graphic designers, and publicists with tomorrow’s work, aiding tomorrow’s writers with their content. The future of book publishing will be much different, but as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. Click To Tweet

The future of book publishing will be much different. However, as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. The future is indeed bright—for those willing to see it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Is Traditional Publishing is the New Vanity Publishing?

I’m not sure who said it first, but over the past few years many have stated that “traditional publishing is the new vanity publishing.”Is Traditional Publishing is the New Vanity Publishing?

As writers struggle with the quandary over self-publishing or traditional publishing, many cling to traditional publishing as the preferred solution merely because they see it as validating their work. In their mind, finding a traditional publisher is an endorsement from the corporate world. This would affirm their book’s viability and ensuring it’s quality. Make sure you pick the right publishing solution based on what’s best for you, your book, and your future, not to appease your ego or out of vanity. Click To Tweet

This might be a legitimate perspective. However, it could also be a form of vanity. This is especially if self-publishing has the potential bring in more revenue for the author.

The old vanity publishing versus the new

At one time vanity publishing meant paying someone to produce a book that no one was willing to publish. This was because it was either poorly written or possessed  limited commercial value. Now the pendulum could be swinging to the opposite extreme. Vanity publishing is insisting someone produce your book merely to satisfy your ego or attain affirmation.

Whichever side of the traditional versus self-publishing dilemma you select, make sure you pick the right solution. It should be based on what’s best for you, your book, and your future, not to appease your ego or out of vanity—there’s no future in that.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Do You Post Videos on You Tube?

You Tube is the second largest search engine in the world

In past months we’ve talked about our presence on various social media sites.

Here’s my list: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google+. Let’s connect on your platform of choice.

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...There’s also You Tube.

People gravitate to video.

As a writer, I don’t so much like this interest in video, but I have written video scripts for some of my clients, and it’s a lot of fun.

As a consumer, I like videos. They pop up on Facebook and Twitter, where they seem to capture people’s attention over images and text. (Again, not good news for writers.)

I have a You Tube channel. It has 41 videos on it. And I have a whopping two subscribers. (Maybe you can be number three!) Most of the videos are for my blog posts, which my VA embeds into my posts on my blog. My VA also creates the videos for me based on my text. She does a great job, so if you like them, it’s all because of her!You Tube is the second largest search engine in the world. Are you on You Tube? Click To Tweet

I also have a book trailer video for my book 95 Tweets. This reminds me. I need to make a trailer for my new book, How Big Is Your Tent? and my upcoming book, Women of the Bible. I’ll put that on my to do list.

Are you on You Tube? Do you post videos on You Tube? Do you have a You Tube Channel?

Please share in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Why It’s Important to Write Every Day

Are you are writer? Do you want to be a writer?

If so, are you writing every day?

I heard it said that if you’re a writer and not writing every day, then you’re not really a writer, you’re a reader.

Why It's Important to Write Every Day

While that may seem harsh, it is something to seriously ponder.

Although it would be a wrong conclude that you need to be writing seven days a week and never take a break, it is critical to write on a regular basis. Write every day. That is the first step to becoming a successful writer. Click To Tweet

This evokes many questions, which will be covered in future posts: when you should write, where you should write, what to write, how do you write, and writing exercises.

But for now, begin to write every day. That’s the first step to becoming a successful writer.

For the most part, I do write every day, but I vary my labors, rotating between projects. I would never spend seven days in a row working on the same thing; that would become boring and the results would be unacceptable.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Great Writing Quotes to Educate and Inform

We can find encouragement and instruction in reading great writing quotes

Two weeks ago I asked you to share your favorite quotes about writing.  Mine was “Omit needless words.” Here are some more great writing quotes.

Check out these quotes about writing.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.” -Chinua Achebe

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.” -Harper Lee

“You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written—behind your silence and your suffering.” -Anne Rice

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” -Stephen King

“Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way.” -E. L. Doctorow

“Writing is the Latin of our times. The modern language of the people is video and sound.” -Lawrence Lessig

“Writing is thinking on paper.” -William Zinsser

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.” -William Faulkner

“If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good.” -Thornton Wilder

“You do have a story inside you; it lies articulate and waiting to be written—behind your silence and your suffering.” -Anne Rice

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis L’Amour

“Every writer I know has trouble writing,” -Joseph Heller

“A lot of people talk about writing. The secret is to write, not talk.” -Jackie Collins

“It is as easy to dream a book as it is hard to write one.” -Honore de Balzac, novelist

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” -Stephen King

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” -Frank Herbert

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” -Gustave Flaubert

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”Isaac Asimov

“Words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts.” -José Saramago

“I read hungrily and delightedly, and have realized since that you can’t write unless you read.” -William Trevor

“Puns are the highest form of literature.” -Alfred Hitchcock

And given that:

“To write with a broken pencil is pointless.” -unknown

“A backward poet writes inverse.” –unknown

Which one of these is your favorite? What would you add?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Are You a Rookie or a Professional Writer?

The Other Side of Article Submissions from an Editor’s Perspective

Are You a Professional Writer? Check out these pointers.For the past thirty-five years, I’ve been submitting articles to periodicals. For the past sixteen I’ve also been on the receiving end as a trade magazine publisher and editor. This gives me a 360-degree understanding of what happens to an article from conception to publication—and everything in between.

In my role as submission gatekeeper, I see a wide variety of articles, from the interesting and finely honed to those missing the mark and sloppy. I also deal with all manner of authors, from the skilled professional writer to the high-maintenance novice.

These two factors result in four possible combinations of article/author dynamics:

  1. You have a great article and are professional: Your work is on the fast track to publication. Feel free to send me an article every month, and I will seriously consider it.
  2. You have a great article but are hard to work with: I groan when I see your email, look for an excuse to reject your submission, and give it a low priority.
  3. Your article needs work, but you don’t: I appreciate your effort and will give your submission extra attention to make it great, knowing you will humbly accept my edits and be thankful for the results. I want to see you improve.
  4. Your article needs work and so do you: Sorry, you’re out of luck.

Therefore, for the greatest chance of having your article accepted, you need to create a powerful piece and be easy to work with. Although there’s a plethora of resources to help writers refine their writing, there’s not so many addressing the supporting issues that can mean the difference between rejection and acceptance. Consider these contrasts between rookie and professional writers. Click To Tweet

Consider the following contrasts between a rookie and professional writer.

You May Be a Rookie Writer If You:

  • Forget to spell-check your work: This is simply inexcusable.
  • Leave “Track Changes” on and include your reviewer’s edits: This means you were in a hurry or haven’t yet mastered your word processor.
  • Submit the wrong version: This error tells me you’re not organized. I have no expectation your writing structure is any better.
  • Assume the submission guidelines don’t apply to you: Guidelines are for the writer’s benefit. Learn them and embrace them.
  • Insist on no editing or require approval of all changes: All submissions will be edited. It’s a reality of periodical publishing. The only exception is publishers who don’t care about quality. And do you really want to be associated with a shoddy publication?
  • Think artistic formatting equals creative writing: The use of italic, underline, bold, and all caps to add emphasis is not a sign of writing creativity but a lack thereof.
  • Insert needless self-promotion: If you do this once, I may edit it out. If you do this too much, I’ll simply reject your submission.
  • Argue to have your work accepted: No means no. There’s no room for discussion. You’ll gain nothing positive by pleading or threatening.
  • Beg for feedback: A writer who needs help with their craft should seek it from a different source prior to submission. A publication editor is not that person. Helping you become a better writer is not their job.

You Are a Professional Writer If You:

  • Produce articles that require few edits: You do whatever it takes to submit your best work.
  • Do what you say: When you promise a piece, you always deliver.
  • Meet deadlines: Deadlines are needed to produce a magazine on time, and you respect them, always meeting or exceeding expectations and never requesting an extension. You also understand that merely submitting your piece on time doesn’t guarantee a place in the next issue.
  • Know your target: Be familiar with the publication you’re submitting to, understanding its style and content. Know the audience and what they want.
  • Understand how the industry works: You comprehend periodical lead times and space limitations; you accept edits and deferred publication.
  • Minimize non-work-related communication: You keep your communication focused on business and don’t engage in superfluous interaction.

I’m not advocating perfection—I certainly miss the mark on that—but striving for excellence is a worthy goal that a professional writer pursues.

There’s more to consider, but this is a good starting point.

With this information, I encourage you to go write, avoid these rookie mistakes, and be a professional writer. Publication is sure to one day follow.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

UR Turn: Favorite Writing Quotes

Quotes by writers about writing can teach, inspire and motivate us

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...Last month we asked the question, Who’s your favorite author? This month we’ll look at what writers say about writing. What are your favorite writing quotes?

My absolute favorite writing quote is the concise, exemplary advice to “Omit needless words.” It comes from the classic book The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.

(For the record, I think I follow this wise advice in my own writing but not as much when working for a client. Sometimes I need to hit a word count goal and having a few needless words help me get there faster. By the way, the best clients don’t insist on word count targets. They just tell me to cover the topic.)My favorite writing quote is to “Omit needless words.” What's your fav? Click To Tweet

Of course, there are many other quotes that likewise guide my writing and my work. In a few weeks I’ll share some of my other favorite writing quotes. But until then, please share some of yours.

If you don’t know the source, that’s okay. And if you need to paraphrase, no worries. The main thing is to share what helps you, because I’m sure it will help others, too.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite writing quotes?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Future of Books: What are the Prospects for Book Publishing?

Now is a great time to publish a book and don’t let anyone tell you differently

What is your perception of the future of books? Is interest increasing, maintaining, or shrinking? The media would have us believing the end is near, at least as far as the book business, especially print books, is concerned.The Future of Books: What are the Prospects for Book Publishing?

  • Eighteen to 29-year olds buy the most books, but those 30 to 44 are right behind them.
  • When combining age ranges, those 13 to 17, 18 to 29, and 30 to 44 buy more books collectively than those 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and over 65.
  • People over 65 buy the least number of books. I would have suspected the opposite, but I would have been wrong,

So, younger people are buying more books than older people. Who would have guessed? There is much for writers and publishers of books to be excited about. Click To Tweet

Given this, there is much for writers and publishers of books to be excited about, despite the media’s dire pronouncements to the contrary—and if this trend continues, the future of books will be even brighter still.

So now is a great time to write and publish a book. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The future of books is looking up.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

A Traditional Published Author Needs to Be an Entrepreneur

Just like their self-published counterparts, a traditional published author has much to do besides writing

Last week I pointed out that self-published authors need to be entrepreneurs and listed what that entailed. The reality is that a traditional published author needs to adopt this same mindset, being entrepreneurial as well.A Traditional Published Author Needs to Be an Entrepreneur

A given requirement is writing a great book.

The next step is finding an agent, who will find a publisher. To get the attention of both, many writers first hire—and pay—a developmental editor, copyeditor, or proofreader to help them make their work the best it can be before the agent or publisher even sees it.

The author also needs to conduct market research to write a compelling proposal. For nonfiction authors, success in all this, however, largely hinges of them having a platform, from which they can sell their books. Fiction authors don’t face as much pressure to have a platform, but it still helps.

Landing an agent, who will hopefully land a publisher, doesn’t mean the author’s job is done, however. Once the book is published, which could take a year or more, the author must also promote, market, and sell their books. Yes, the publisher will do this, but they’ll expect the author to do most of the work.

No one will be more passionate and have more at stake than the author. This may involve hiring a publicist. A traditional published author needs to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Click To Tweet

In addition to writing a great book, the traditional published author needs to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, handling the following tasks:

  • Build a platform
  • Conduct market research
  • Hire a developmental editor, copyeditor, or proofreader
  • Find a publicist
  • Handle marketing and promotion
  • Develop and execute paid advertising

The days of sending your manuscript to your publisher and letting them take it from there are over. Even with a traditional publisher, the author still has a lot of extra work to do. Maybe self-publishing isn’t such a bad idea after all.

[What if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur and just want to write? There’s another option: become a ghostwriter.]

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!